It is very rare that I write about something other than Disney. today is one of those times. During the long upstate NY winters, I spend my free time curling (like the Olympic sport). It keeps me active while all the golf courses are covered in snow. Since I began curling in 2002, I’ve got pretty good by club standards and travel to several bonspiels (tournament) a year. One of the bonspiels, I go to is the City of Ottawa bonspiel which a large event featuring mainly teams from Canada. This year, there were 112 teams in the open division and only three teams from the United States. Canada is the world leader in curling so the competition is the best that my team will face all season.
I have been going to this event for the last eight seasons. The last seven seasons has been with my own team. For the first few years, we struggled against the competition and coming home with a record somewhere close to .500. The two years leading into this one, we reach an event semifinal (the bonspiel has 10-15 events that you can fall into based on your wins and losses). Last year, we won our first four games which got us to the quarterfinals and also qualified us for the Grand Aggregate Championship which features the teams that reached the quarterfinals of the first event, the semifinals of the second finals, and the champions of the third and fourth event. After winning those first four games, we lost in the first event quarterfinals and then our opening game in the Grand Aggregate Championship. We also fell one win short of coming home with some prize money from the event and finished the event with a 4-2 record.
This year, we wanted to be playing on Sunday. As always, it was a tough task. A task that was made tougher after we lost our first game 11-0 to another team that reached the quarterfinals last year. We recovered to win our second game with a 1-1 record.
The next day, we started out slow again with another loss. This time to a team that had the fortune of playing at their home club. My team retreated for lunch at one of our favorite establishments…The Prescott located in the Little Italy section of Ottawa on Preston Street. The restaurant is known for its square pizza and The Cadillac, a meatball “sub” served on two pieces of white bread.
After lunch, we returned for our fourth game of the weekend which was a win over one of the other US-based teams. Our 2-2 record placed us in the 6th event. Not eligible for the Grand Aggregate but the highest level event that is for teams who are no longer eligible to reach the Grand Aggregate. So, we were still going to see some good teams.
After our dinner, we headed back to our hotel to watch some professional curling and rest up for our busy Saturday. Our Saturday kicked off with a 35-minute drive out to Carp and the Huntley Curling Club. At Huntley, we came up against Jeff Henderson who had we played before in a previous event. He gave us a tough game that we were able to win by a 7-6 score. Our next game was back at the Granite Curling Club where we had lost on Friday morning. However, we had the good fortune of playing on the exact same sheet as we had on Friday morning and we got to throw the same colored rocks as well. This slight advantage turned the game in our favor. Our opponents were confused early by the ice conditions and we were able to take a lead that we never gave up winning 9-5.
We were now in the 6th event semifinals on Saturday evening. The ice conditions were very unpredictable. Very slow to start and didn’t get much faster as the game went on. It was very much like playing at our home club. We used this familiarity to our advantage and won the game 10-4 after trailing 3-0 early in the match. We had finally made it to an event final! We had enough time, after our match, to go one of Canada’s finer steakhouse’s, The Keg, for a celebratory dinner.
There were a couple of nice things about reaching the final: 1) the final wasn’t until 1:30 in the afternoon so we could sleep in and 2) we were guaranteed prize money ($800CAD for winning, $400CAD for losing).
The finals were held at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club.
They have a wonderful six-sheet curling facility which recently hosted the 2015 Canadian Qualifier for the World Mixed Doubles Championships. We played our best game in the final. We didn’t miss many shots and the shots we did miss didn’t hurt us. Going into the sixth end (inning), the score was tied 2-2. The other team finally made a mistake but completely missing their last shot. I was able to make our last shot in the end and we took a 5-2 lead heading into the last two ends. They only scored one point in the seventh end and no one scored in the eighth and final end as we claimed a 5-3 victory and the 6th event championship!
Our prizes were $800CAD, a winner’s patch, and our names get to go on a very good-sized trophy. Pictures of the final score (a bit fuzzy) as well as the patch and trophy are below.
I want to thank the rest of my team: Dan Machold, Ted Kreutz, and Marek Rzonca for a fantastic weekend and hopefully we will be able to defend our 6th event championship or maybe in a game in the Grand Aggregate Championship next season.
Thanks for reading!